What You Eat Can Protect
Your Skin from the Sun
By: Barbara Levine, R.D., Ph.D.
(ARA) - By now you probably think you've heard all of the health
reasons there are for eating your vegetables. But, just in time
for summer, researchers from Harvard University have announced
that lutein -- a potent antioxidant found in such dark green,
leafy vegetables as spinach and kale -- may protect the skin
from sun damage.
"Lutein has been widely recognized
for its eye health benefits for several years. But, our data
is the first of its kind to suggest that lutein may have the
potential to act as a preventative agent against UVB-induced
skin cancer," said Salvador Gonzalez, M.D., Ph.D., leader
of the Harvard research team. "In addition, these data
suggest that lutein protects the skin against damage caused
by exposure to UVB light, further validating our position that
lutein is a critical component to overall skin health."
Lutein (LOO-teen) is a yellow pigment
(the yellow is covered up by chlorophyll in green leaves) found
predominantly in vegetables. It is also present in the eyes
and skin of the human body. In women, lutein is found in the
breasts and cervix. As an antioxidant, lutein protects the eyes
from the damaging effects of aging. Lutein also acts as a light
filter, protecting against the sun's harmful rays.
UVA and UVB rays are two types of harmful
rays found in sunlight. UVA rays contribute to wrinkling the
skin, as well as to the development of skin cancer. UVB rays
are the ones that are the primary cause of sunburn and skin
Good sunscreens block both UVA and UVB rays and are critical
to skin health. But, you can do even more to protect your skin
and eyes when you're outside this summer.
Safety tips to keep top of mind:
Wear UV-blocking sunglasses. Over time,
exposure to ultraviolet light can cause cataracts and increase
your risk of macular degeneration, a disease that causes irreversible
If you're a parent, protect your children's
skin. Research indicates that one or more severe, blistering
sunburns in childhood or adolescence can double the risk of
skin cancer later in life.
Check the expiration date on your sunscreen.
Sunscreen without an expiration date has a shelf life of no
more than three years.
Eat a healthy diet comprised of green
leafy vegetables. Consumption of 6 milligrams of lutein per
day (approximately one-third cup of cooked spinach) has been
linked to a reduced risk of cataracts and age-related macular
degeneration. Vitamins and dietary supplements formulated with
purified lutein provide another option for adding this nutrient
to a daily diet.
It's important to note that when lutein
is consumed in foods or vitamins, it deposits in various tissues
in the body -- the eyes, the skin, fat tissue and so on. Therefore,
it may also be beneficial to apply lutein directly to the surface
of your skin. Several skin care products containing lutein are
now available and can be purchased online at www.sephora.com
or at salons that carry California Tan Heliotherapy sun care
For more information about how lutein can help promote healthy
eyes and skin, talk to your doctor and visit the Lutein Information
Courtesy of ARA Content